Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include results not available by press time Tuesday night.
Despite lingering uncertainty over the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus on school budgets statewide, voters in all five districts in northern Franklin County approved their districts’ respective spending plans.
The proposed $19.9 million school budget for 2020-21, passed 413-191. The spending plan is $1.4 million more than the 2019-20 school year, and includes a 2.5 percent tax levy increase. District officials had struggled with how much of the roughly $1 million fund balance to use to shore up the budget in the face of a potential 20% cut in state aid later in the year, opting to retain most of the balance as a hedge against the cut.
The budget does use about $800,000 to hold the line on taxes.
Five of the nine seats on the Brushton-Moira school board were up for election. Three of them were three-year terms, awarded to incumbents Tracy Edwards with 445 votes and Dennis Egan with 434 votes. Wayne Palmer, a corrections officer, took the third three-year term with 406 votes, knocking current board President Marice Bright to fill one of two one-year terms created by the resignations of Angela DeBeer and Vitaline LaPage. Bright received 378 votes, local pastor Nate Beachy secured the second one-year term with 335 votes. Kermit Wells, with 317 votes, did not receive a seat on the board.
Three-year seats were awarded to candidates with the top three vote counts, and one-year seats were awarded to the two candidates with the next-most votes.
A proposition to buy three 66-passenger school buses, costing close to $300,000, passed 391-213.
The school budget, which proposed a spending decrease of over $300,000, from $14.1 million to $13.8 million, and includes a tax levy increase of 1.3%, passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 420-66. The budget allocates $2.2 million for administrative costs, $9 million for program costs and $2.5 million for capital expenses.
Two incumbent school board members were unopposed in their bids to retain their seats. Veteran board member William Harrigan received 438 votes and Valerie Dalton, who is also a member of the Village Board, won her seat with 400 votes.
A proposition to lease two school buses, not to exceed $32,000, passed 416-69.
Malone’s proposed budget of $54.7 million was easily approved by voters 1,424 to 222. The budget calls for a spending decrease of around $100,000 from the $54,8 million 2019-20 budget. Two school board seats were up for election, one five-year seat and one three-year seat. The five-year seat was awarded to Cathy Hollinshead, who led all vote-getters with 1,171 votes and former village police officer David Merrick won the three-year seat with 1,060 votes. Hollinshead will be replacing Stephen Dupree, who opted not to seek re-election, and Merrick` will replace Shannon Pitcher-Boyea, who resigned to take a position with the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES. Jacque Leduc received 575 votes.
A proposition to purchase five 65-passenger school busses, costing $680,000, passed 1,285 to 317.
The district’s $34 million proposed budget, which held spending even with the 2019-20 budget, passed 483-179. The tax levy continued a downward trend, with a 4.5 percent decrease.
Current school board President Emily Lauzon ran unopposed for her seat, receiving 507 votes in favor of her re-election. In the contest for the second board seat, Jordan Lauzon held off Vicki Wood 340-304 to keep his position.
A proposition to purchase four 66-passenger school buses, not to exceed $475,000, passed 480-183.
Voters in the St. Regis Falls Central School District approved the proposed $9.7 million budget for 2020-21 by a vote of 272-129. The budget represents a $678,000 increase from the $9 million 2019-20 spending plan. Including a tax levy increase of 2.9%.
SRF school officials did not report the results of the voting in their district by press time, saying the start of the count had been delayed because of problems with the form used to determine voter eligibility.
Board President Lyndon Farmer successfully defended his seat against two challengers, Devin Furnace and Jeffery Clark. Farmer received 206 votes; the vote tallies for the other candidates were not announced.
Voters also approved a proposal to purchase one 66-passenger school bus, costing $112,000, by a vote of 281 yes and 120 no.